NET WORTH: $1.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Steinhardt Partners
FUNDING AREAS: Jewish Causes, Higher Education, Wildlife Conservation, New York
OVERVIEW: Steinhardt shuttered his investment firm in 1995 to pursue his philanthropic interests. The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life promotes Jewish culture and education in the U.S. Steinhardt also supports higher education broadly and has invested in cultural institutions and conservation.
BACKGROUND: Often lauded as “one of the greatest investors on Wall Street,” Michael Steinhardt is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. Early in his career, he worked in the financial industry in the roles of research associate, staff writer and securities analyst. He established his own investment company, Steinhardt Partners, in 1967. In 1995, he left the financial field in order to focus on philanthropy, mainly through his foundation, the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.
JEWISH CAUSES: Steinhardt is a co-founder and ongoing supporter of Birthright Israel, a non-profit that, since 1999, has sent over 400,000 participants to Israel to explore their Jewish heritage. He is also co-chair of the Areivim Philanthropic Group, which supports “broad-reaching transformational projects and ideas that will significantly impact the next generations in Jewish life.” Steinhardt supports a number of Hebrew charter and public charter schools, Jewish summer camps and Jewish family programs. In 2003, he donated $2.5 to the Hillel International for the construction of the Hillel building, now named Steinhardt Hall, at the University of Pennsylvania.
HIGHER EDUCATION: In 2005, Steinhardt endowed the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, a nonsectarian, Jewish-sponsored institution in Massachusetts. He has also donated more than $25 million to New York University, which renamed its school of education the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Other higher-ed recipients of Steinhardt’s philanthropy include Saint Xavier University, Sacred Heart University, the Weill Medical College at Cornell University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
WILDLIFE CONSERVATION: Michael Steinhardt has invested in the Wildlife Conservation Society, a global wildlife and biodiversity conservation organization that currently manages about 500 conservation projects around the globe. In New York City, WCS manages the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo. Steinhardt has given WCS around $5 million over the past decade.
NEW YORK: Steinhardt has supported a variety of New York-based organizations over the years including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Morgan Library, the 92nd Street Y, the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life continues to support Jewish culture and education through investments in Hebrew language K-12 charter schools and Jewish cultural programs at colleges and universities. One new project, myjewishlearning.com, offers information about Jewish history, culture and religion in an effort to “create points of engagement for unaffiliated Jews.” It is likely that Steinhardt’s philanthropy will continue in this direction.
The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life
729 Seventh Avenue – 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019